NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 23 – As nations and health authorities across the planet work to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, the mental wellness of those affected and infected stands out.
There are many factors that determine the state of one’s mental health, including: social, economic, psychological and biological factors within one’s environment.
Mental illnesses and challenges can be triggered or exacerbated by life-threatening occurrences and disasters, including health epidemics and pandemics.
The mandatory quarantine guidelines being issued as part of government measures to contain the spread of the highly infectious virus are welcome but there are concerns over increasing mental health issues with most people finding themselves in unfamiliar territory, separated from their loved ones.
For most people, the outbreak has changed the way they work, socialize, travel, exercise, and shop: basically, the way they live.
Further to this, restriction of movement of people being implemented by the government in a bid to minimize the spread of the disease has also impacted people’s lifestyles, increasing the instances of child abuse, domestic violence, substance abuse and other psychological problems.
Considering emerging challenges Absa Bank Kenya PLC has partnered with health insurance provider Minet to provide psychosocial support to affected Kenyans through a care line dubbed the COVID-19 wellness care line.
This programme will initially be rolled out to those in quarantine facilities, isolation centers, their families and health care workers.
“We are going through a tough time as a country, and as Absa, we remain committed to being an active force for good in the communities that we operate in, and we are working with like-minded organizations like Minet to help those affected get through the current situation,” said Absa Bank Kenya Managing Director Jeremy Awori.
Minet Kenya Chief Executive Officer Sammy Muthui noted the COVID-19 pandemic has presented a unique mental, physical, emotional, financial and spiritual wellness challenge to those infected and affected.
“Minet’s partnership with Absa through the Ministry of Health is our way of giving, in the fight against this global scourge and we hope to collectively bring a positive change in the lives of those infected and affected. Minet already has the infrastructure in place based on the wellness programmes that we currently run for various organizations,” Muthui said.
Those experiencing psychological distress have been encouraged to reach out through a USSD code *202*04# to access counselors who will provide the support required.
“With this initiative, victims now have a chance to reach out through a toll-free line to access professional counseling,” Muthui noted.